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Where was God in this tragedy?

Topic / Culture

Planet Earth looks so beautiful from outer space. Satellite pictures make this world look like such a beautiful and wonderful place to live, but yet we know otherwise. Increased turmoil, rising terrorism, mounting tragedies, trauma, pollution, deepening trials, and unparalleled tensions cast dark shadows over us all. This world appears to be more of a time bomb ticking just waiting to explode rather than a creation God established for us to dwell.

No wonder we all start to ask questions during times like this. Where is God in all this? Why didn’t He stop it? Is He really out there? Does He care? Why all the injustice? Why do innocent people suffer while the evil people seem to control everything? Why doesn’t God do something? Why? Why? Why?

These questions are not new to God. Hundreds of years before Jesus was even born an ancient prophet looked around at his world and cried out to God, “Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrong? Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Hab 1:3, 13) When you personally ask these questions, chances are God will not come before you and explain everything, but that’s okay because someone else already got the answers for you. This prophet not only asked God these mysterious questions but received the answers too. The answers given by the Creator of the universe are written for us in a little book called Habakkuk.

Habakkuk probably isn’t a book you spend too much time in, but it’s still very unique and worth just as much of our time as the rest of His Word. This little book tells of an interview God had with Habakkuk, a conversation between Almighty God and a perplexed prophet.

When Habakkuk wrote this book, the world was in a state of crisis. Babylonia was the current powerhouse, crushing every known nation around. Shortly after this book was written Babylonia would finally attain complete world power by overtaking Judah and carrying the civilians away in captivity. However, right before this happened, in a time of great fear and uncertainty, Habakkuk recorded his conversation with the Lord for us to read today.

Besides the international crisis, the nation of Judah was in an even more serious state of corruption. They had several kings, each very wicked. Except for one king named Josiah, they all hated the Lord and did everything in their power to reject Him, mock Him, and kill anyone who admitted to be committed to Him. The people were violent, greedy, fought over everything, and did injustice to everyone. Habakkuk looked at not only the wicked state of the nation around him but also at the crisis the world was in due to Babylonia’s domination.

It’s no wonder he cried out to God, “Why don’t you do something?” We also continue to ask this same question today during tragic times. In a time of national crisis and corruption, many of us begin to question God and wonder what He’s doing. Terrorists rise up against nations, we develop an ever-increasing array of complex weapons, and then try to live in peace without the Prince of Peace.

While we are at war against terrorists from other countries, our nation continues to decline on the inside by a mentality that says personal pleasure is the ultimate rule in life. Crime increases while church attendance decreases. Homes crumble, drugs prevail, faith dies, and divorce grows to be commonplace. “In God We Trust” is a meaningless phrase that carries little weight, just four words to stamp on a coin.

In the dark days of the prophet Habakkuk’s time, he writes an unusual message of hope and encouragement for God’s people. Though doubts and confusion reign when sin runs rampant, an encounter with God can turn those doubts into devotion and all confusion into confidence.

Habakkuk’s book begins with asking God a series of “Why?” questions, discontent with the circumstances around him. However, by the time the book ends, God has both answered his questions and calmed his fears. Maybe not the way Habakkuk was looking for but it was an answer just the same. His worry changed to worship and his fear altered to reverence. He closes the book with hope and adoration of God and who He is in comparison to this world.

What begins with a question mark ends with an exclamation point. The question “Why?” is best answered with the everlasting “Who!” Though the outlook on this world may elicit fear in our hearts, the “uplook” elicits trust. The prophet’s questions and fears were replaced with a confident faith in God. His confusion, “Why all the conflict?” is resolved with his understanding of who is in control: God!

In such a world of crisis and chaos, Habakkuk clearly speaks. This little book is as relevant for us today as the morning newspaper. Read it.

(Adapted from “The Bible Knowledge Commentary”. Warlvoord and Zuck. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL. 1986)


Posted on September 11, 2005

  • I’m taking an intro class on Old Testament Prophetic Literature this semester. After reading Jim Wallis’ book God’s Politics this summer, he calls for a renewal of the prophetic voice in religion and politics, I think it will be an excellent class.

    I’ll keep thinking about the computer thing and let you know what I decide…I’d love to have help buying one and it would be cool to put it together also. Thanks for your advice!

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